7 Best Italian UFC Fighters of All Time (2022 Updated)

While Italy may not be the first country that comes to mind in the world of mixed martial arts, it has produced a group of talented fighters who have left a lasting impression on the sport.

From challengers for the middleweight title to powerful knockout artists, these Italian UFC fighters have showcased their skills and resilience on the biggest stage.

Despite their relatively small number, their impact cannot be overlooked.

As MMA grows in popularity in Italy, more fighters are likely to emerge and leave their mark on the sport.

Key Takeaways

  • Marvin Vettori is a standout Italian UFC fighter who challenged Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title in 2021 and became the first Italian-born UFC fighter to headline a UFC card.
  • Alessio Sakara is known for his powerful boxing and has 15 KO/TKO wins, with 11 out of 15 fights finished in round 1.
  • Alessio Di Chirico has the potential to become a top 10 middleweight and is recognized for his 83% takedown defense.
  • Italian MMA is still relatively niche in Italy compared to other European countries, but fighters like Alessio Sakara have inspired growth in the sport within the country.

Marvin Vettori: Middleweight Title Contender

Marvin Vettori emerges as a formidable middleweight title contender in the UFC. With an impressive record and notable wins, Vettori's chances of winning the middleweight title in his next fight are highly promising.

He showcased his skills and determination when he challenged Israel Adesanya for the title in 2021, becoming the first Italian-born UFC fighter to headline a UFC card. Vettori's title challenge has had a significant impact on the popularity of MMA in Italy.

His achievements and continued success inspire a new generation of Italian fighters to pursue their dreams in the sport. As Vettori continues to make waves in the middleweight division, his dedication and skill set a high standard for Italian fighters and elevate the status of MMA in Italy.

Alessio Sakara: Knockout Artist

Alessio Sakara, known as a knockout artist, has made a significant impact in the UFC with his powerful boxing skills and impressive record. With 15 knockout or TKO wins in his career, Sakara has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the octagon. His aggressive style and ability to finish fights quickly have made him a fan favorite. Sakara's impact on Italian MMA cannot be overstated. As one of the most successful Italian fighters in the UFC, he has inspired a new generation of fighters from Italy to pursue their dreams in the sport. While Italian fighters are still limited in number, the future looks bright, with more talent emerging and the sport gaining popularity in Italy. Alessio Sakara's legacy as a knockout artist has paved the way for the future of Italian fighters in the UFC.

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Alessio Sakara: Knockout Artist
Powerful boxing skills Impressive record Inspiration for Italian fighters

Alessio Di Chirico: Rising Middleweight Prospect

As a rising middleweight prospect in the UFC, Di Chirico has shown great potential and has garnered attention in the MMA community. With a record of 4-6 in the UFC, Di Chirico may not have the most impressive win-loss ratio, but his performances inside the Octagon have displayed his skillset and ability to compete at a high level.

Here are three reasons why Alessio Di Chirico has the potential to become a top middleweight contender:

  • Striking prowess: Di Chirico possesses a dynamic striking game, utilizing a mix of powerful punches, precise kicks, and slick footwork. His ability to land significant strikes has been evident in his victories against Julian Marquez and Joaquin Buckley.
  • Well-rounded skillset: Di Chirico isn't just a striker. He's also showcased solid grappling and takedown defense, boasting an impressive 83% takedown defense rate. This well-rounded skillset allows him to stay competitive in all areas of the fight.
  • Training in Italy: The growth of MMA in Italy has had a significant impact on Italian UFC fighters, including Di Chirico. With the rise of MMA gyms and the availability of high-level training partners and coaches in Italy, fighters like Di Chirico have been able to develop their skills and compete at the highest level.

With his potential and the continued growth of MMA in Italy, Alessio Di Chirico has the opportunity to make a name for himself as a top middleweight contender in the UFC.

Carlo Pedersoli Jr: Impressive UFC Debut

Carlo Pedersoli Jr burst onto the UFC scene with an impressive debut performance. With an 11-1 record, he showed great promise as he entered the Octagon. However, his journey in the UFC was met with some setbacks, including a loss to UFC veteran Alex 'Cowboy' Oliveira and a controversial knockout loss to Dwight Grant.

Despite these challenges, Pedersoli Jr has now signed with Bellator, and his future in the organization looks promising. As he transitions to a new promotion, there are exciting potential matchups for him in Bellator. Fans can anticipate thrilling clashes against talented welterweights such as Yaroslav Amosov, Michael Page, and Lorenz Larkin.

These matchups would test Pedersoli Jr's skills and provide opportunities for him to showcase his abilities on a new platform.

Luis Pena: Italian Flag Representative

Luis Pena, the representative of the Italian flag in the UFC, brings a unique blend of skills and a strong fighting spirit to the octagon.

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As a fighter of Italian heritage, Pena's journey in the UFC has been shaped by the impact of representing the Italian flag. This role has brought immense pride and responsibility, pushing Pena to elevate his performance and showcase the rich fighting tradition of Italy.

Pena's Italian roots have also had a profound influence on his fighting style and career. Just like his fellow Italian-American fighter Al Iaquinta, Pena possesses a strong takedown defense and relies on powerful and accurate boxing combinations.

The Italian heritage has instilled in both fighters a sense of determination and resilience, making them formidable competitors inside the UFC.

Al Iaquinta: Italian-American Boxing Specialist

Representing the Italian-American heritage in the UFC, Al Iaquinta brings his expertise in boxing to the octagon as a specialist in the sport. With a strong background in the sweet science, Iaquinta has made a significant impact on the lightweight division throughout his career.

Known for his powerful and accurate boxing combinations, he's secured seven knockout victories in the UFC. His skills have been on full display in impressive wins against notable opponents such as Jorge Masvidal, Diego Sanchez, and Kevin Lee (twice). Iaquinta's proficiency in boxing has allowed him to showcase his striking ability and dominate his opponents on the feet.

As MMA continues to grow in Italy, fighters like Iaquinta serve as inspirations and role models for aspiring Italian athletes looking to make their mark in the sport.

Frankie Edgar: Italian Ethnicity Lightweight Champion

Continuing the exploration of Italian heritage in the UFC, Frankie Edgar, with his Italian ethnicity, has made a significant impact as a lightweight champion. Known for his exceptional grappling skills and takedowns, Edgar has showcased his mastery of the ground game throughout his career.

With 73 landed takedowns in the UFC, he's consistently demonstrated his ability to control his opponents on the mat. Edgar's dominant top control and ground-and-pound have been instrumental in his victories, including notable wins against Yair Rodriguez and B.J. Penn three times.

As Italian MMA continues to grow, fighters like Edgar serve as inspirations for future generations. With his Italian roots, Edgar has paved the way for the potential growth of Italian MMA in the future, as more fighters may emerge and make their mark on the sport.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Has the Growth of Italian MMA Compared to Other European Countries?

Italian MMA has experienced slower growth compared to other European countries like Russia, Poland, and the UK. However, Italian fighters in the UFC, such as Alessio Sakara and Alessio Di Chirico, have inspired growth and have the potential to elevate the sport's popularity in Italy.

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What Are Some Notable Achievements and Wins of Italian UFC Fighters?

Italian UFC fighters have achieved notable success in the octagon, including challenging for championship titles and securing impressive knockout victories. Their wins against top-ranked opponents and submission victories have solidified their status as formidable competitors.

Are There Any Other Italian-Born UFC Fighters Who Have Had Success in the Promotion?

Yes, there are other Italian-born UFC fighters who have had success in the promotion. Some notable ones include Paolo Costa in the middleweight division and Leonardo Santos in the lightweight division. Additionally, Italian fighters have found success in other MMA promotions as well.

How Is MMA Perceived in Italy and Is It Considered a Popular Sport?

MMA in Italy is still gaining popularity, but it's considered a niche sport compared to countries like Russia and the UK. Italian fighters face challenges in international competitions, but more may join the list in the future.

Can We Expect to See More Italian Fighters Join the UFC in the Future?

Italian UFC fighters have made an impact on the sport, but their numbers are still limited. However, with the potential shown by fighters like Alessio Di Chirico, more Italian prospects may join the UFC in the future, further impacting Italian sports culture.


In the world of mixed martial arts, Italy may not be the first country that comes to mind when it comes to producing top-tier UFC fighters. However, the Italian fighters who've emerged in the octagon have proven their skills and resilience, leaving a lasting impression on the sport.

These fighters showcase the potential for Italy to become a force to be reckoned with in the MMA world. Just as Italy's rich history and culture have stood the test of time, these fighters demonstrate the strength and determination of their heritage.

Mike Williams
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